Making Your Message Relevant – Supporter Personas

Rob Wu
Rob Wu


In non-profit online fundraising, better engagement with your supporters starts first by developing a deep understanding them. One tool that helps make this happen is a supporter persona.

Supporter personas are a small set of fictitious profiles of supporters that represent your support base. These personas contain information about a supporter’s behavior. This may include their expectations, attitudes, environment, and goals. Often time, these personas also include a fictitious name and photo as well as a few personal details to bring the persona to life.

Personas should be based on research and represent similar types of real supporters. As a result, it makes your message relevant by helping tailor decisions about communications and messaging.

Here’s an example of a completed supporter persona:


For your non-profit, create personas of your supporters by following these steps:

1. Hypothesize – Using the above example, draft 3 to 5 supporter personas based on known characteristics of real people. Use your knowledge from existing relationships or experiences with supporters. Hypothesize demographics such as their age, income, and even profession. Think about both the supporter’s cultural and social backgrounds as well as any common life experiences.

2. Validate – Refine your persona hypothesis through research. Though it may be time consuming, sit down with a diverse set or random sample of supporters. Check to see if your draft supporter persona reflects reality. Review profiles of your fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter to glean additional information about their behaviors, attitudes, and interests.

3. Finalize – Repeat steps 1 and 2 until patterns and themes appear through your research. Use this validated data to complete the supporter personas. Add in a fictitious name, photo, and personal details.

After supporter personas are finalized, use these personas as a foundation for communications and messaging. Create your appeals, campaign page text, and other media with these personas in mind. Doing this makes your message relevant and your online fundraising campaign more effective.

title photo by nnova

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